Two thirds of us will experience a mental health problem in our lifetime and stress is a key factor to this. This Mental Health Awareness Week, the Mental Health Foundation and Newcross are asking, are you coping with stress? Stress can affect how you feel, think and behave and how your body works. We share help and guidance to tackling stress.
By tackling stress, we can go a long way to tackle mental health problems such as anxiety and depression, and, in some instances, self-harm and suicide. Although there is little you can do to prevent stress, there are many things you can do to manage it more effectively, such as learning how to relax, taking regular exercise and adopting good time management techniques.
1. Challenge yourself
Setting yourself goals and challenges, whether at work or outside, such as learning a new language or a new sport, helps to build confidence. In turn, this will help to alleviate stress.
2. Adopt a healthy lifestyle/Be active
If we eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly and ensure we get adequate sleep and rest, our body is better able to cope with stress should it occur. Exercise causes the body to release endorphins, known to make you feel that much happier.
3. Know your limitations and do not take on too much
We can cause ourselves a great deal of stress because we do not want to let people down. We then end up doing more than we should. Ensure you get a healthy work/life balance by managing your diary effectively and allowing for rest breaks in between periods of working.
4. Take control
Take time to discover the root of your worries and try to change your thoughts and behaviour to reduce it. A stress assessment can help you to fully understand the causes, the implications to your health and how to manage, cope and make necessary changes. The act of taking control is in itself empowering, and it's a crucial part of finding a solution that satisfies you.
5. Avoid unnecessary conflict
Don’t be too argumentative. Ask yourself: Is this really worth the stress? Look for win - win situations. Try and come to a resolution, where both parties can achieve a positive outcome. Find out what the real cause of the problem is and deal with it. Sometimes this means knowing when to apologise and when to let it go.
6. Accept the things you cannot change
Changing a difficult situation is not always possible. If this proves to be the case, recognise and accept things as they are and concentrate on all that you do have control over. Managing change effectively is essential or else performance will be reduced.
7. Take time out to relax and recharge your batteries
Here in the UK, we work the longest hours in Europe, meaning we often don't spend enough time doing things we really enjoy. Make sure you take at least one annual break of at least 10-14 continuous days to ensure you get a healthy work-life balance.
8. Connect with people
Friends can ease work troubles and help us see things in a different way. The activities we engage in with friends help us relax and we will often have a good laugh. It boosts the immune system that is often depleted during stress. A good support network of colleagues, friends and family can ease your work troubles and help you see things in a different way.
9. Try to see things differently: Develop a more positive thinking style
If something is concerning you, try to see it differently. Talk over your problem with somebody before it gets out of proportion. Overthinking can cause small things to seem far bigger than they actually are. Often, talking to a friend/colleague/family member will help you see things from a different and less stressful perspective.
10. Avoid turning to alcohol, nicotine and caffeine as coping mechanisms
Long term, these faulty coping mechanisms will just add to the problem. For example, caffeine and nicotine are stimulants - too much and the body reacts to this with the stress response increasing or even causing anxiety symptoms.
For further information and advice:
Anxiety UK runs a helpline staffed by volunteers with personal experience of anxiety from 9:30-5:30, Monday to Friday. Call 08444 775 774.
Citizens Advice provides free, independent and confidential advice for a range of problems as well as providing information on your rights and responsibilities.
StepChange provides help and information for people dealing with a range of debt problems. Freephone (including from mobiles) 0800 138 1111.
Mind provides information on a range of mental health topics to support people in their own area from 9.00am to 6.00pm, Monday to Friday. Call 0300 123 3393 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rethink Advice and Information Service
Rethink provide specific solution-based guidance - 0300 5000927 Fax: 020 7820 1149 email email@example.com.